: Social commentary

Harmony is the Tune of the Day

Harmony Day intends to encourage messages of inclusion by adopting the approach of everyone identifying and then celebrating their ethnic and cultural heritage. This year’s theme of Everyone Belongs, was an important message to send.

On Harmony Day this year there was one particular event which I attended that really spoke of inclusion and exemplified this year’s theme that ‘everyone belongs’. It was, interestingly enough, a Hip Hop festival designed for all age groups that took place in Bankstown, New South Wales.

The 4Elements HipHop All-Ages Festival (which is set to run again during Youth Week in April) was designed to bring people of all-ages and ethnic and cultural heritages to embrace unity and acceptance as well as awareness of the socio-political climate in Australia (particularly in Western Sydney). Hip Hop became the platform and framework by which to discuss all of these elements as it is inherently a musical form about acceptance, belonging and harmony.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Images: (left to right) Matuse; Little Hunta; Munk of Renegades of Munk; Brotha Black.

What does this event signify?

This event highlights that multiculturalism is not always about highlighting how many different cultures are in Australia, the different dress, the different food or the different language, but it runs deeper. When differences no longer matter and interaction is based on the sole purpose of enjoying culture (no matter which one) with other human beings, then multiculturalism is working.

Multiculturalism is a continually evolving concept and without discussion cannot progress. One of the most engaging parts of the Hip Hop festival was not its gallery, live street art or live performances but the Industry Panel discussion on racism, ethnicity, multiculturalism, transnationalism and the relevance of youth movements. This is a key highlight as it is part of the building blocks for multiculturalism and harmony. Social conversation needs to be conducted if the negative aspects in society are to be recognized. For without this recognition the concept of everyone belonging cannot truly be attained. This where the essence of Harmony Day must exist if we are to dance to the tune of belonging.

Seen (left to right): Industry Panel: John Khilla aka Dj MK1, Dr. Rebecca Sheehan and Dr. Omid Tofighian; Vyvienne Abla, Event Director of Vyva Entertainment; right, Rob Scott, Source Music and Tim Caroll, Director of BYDS. 

All Images Courtesy of Chris Woe Photography.

Where does Racism occur?

Do you know where racism occurs?

All Together Now has created an infographic to show the most common areas where racism happens. This information is based on research that looked into the different experiences of racism in Victoria within culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD) – if you’d like to know more about this report, click here.


As you can see, racism occurs in a range of public and private spaces. However, it’s up to you to help stop racism where and when it occurs. For more tips, visit our infographic on Witnessing Racism on the Bus and learn how to stand up to racism by clicking here. However, not all racism is obvious – find out more about casual racism so that you can help put a stop to racism in all its different forms.

What are your thoughts on these statistics?



Creative Commons License Where does Racism occur? by All Together Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Information courtesy of: Ferdinand A, Kelaher M & Paradies Y 2013. ‘Mental health impacts of racial discrimination in Victorian culturally and linguistically diverse communities: Full report.’ Victorian Health Promotion Foundation. Melbourne, Australia.

You are welcome to download (JPEG) and print this infographic providing you observe this license.

All Together Now is a not-for-profit organisation. If you have found this infographic useful, please make a donation of $25 to help us continue to create more like this one.

Discrimination against Indigenous Australians

In 2014, BeyondBlue and TNS Social Research surveyed young Australians between 25-44 about their attitudes towards Indigenous Australians. The campaign revealed the shocking extent of discrimination against Indigenous Australians among young Australians. They received over 1000 online responses.

From these surveys, it is clear that discrimination against Indigenous Australians is as prevalent as ever. The research found that racism against Indigenous Australians is everywhere – in the workplace, on public transport, even in everyday conversation. It is now more important than ever to help prevent these kinds of issues from continuing into Australia’s future.

At All Together Now, we have made an infographic based on the findings of this campaign on racism. Please share and like this infographic to help us get the message out there – that discrimination against Indigenous Australians needs to stop.

Discrimination - Indigenous

What are your thoughts on these statistics? Let us know in the comments below!


Creative Commons LicenseDiscrimination against Indigenous Australians by All Together Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. Information courtesy of: BeyondBlue 2014, ‘Discrimination against Indigenous Australians: A snapshot of the views of non-Indigenous people aged 25-44’, available at www.beyondblue.org.au.

You are welcome to download (PDF) and print this infographic providing you observe this license.

All Together Now is a not-for-profit organisation. If you have found this infographic useful, please make a donation of $25 to help us continue to create more like this one.


Lunar New Year: More than the Dancing Dragon

Lunar New Year: Much more than a Dancing Dragon!

When we think of the Chinese New Year (CNY) images like the famous dancing dragon and night markets with delicious dumplings come to mind. It is a vibrant and noisy event for most of us celebrating in our own way alongside the Chinese community. Behind the trademark dancing dragon and food abundance is one of the most successful East meets West initiatives in the Southern hemisphere and outside China. Emerging from humble beginnings in Sydney in 1996 as a local community event, sponsored by the City of Sydney. The cultural and economic gains of the festival are huge bringing many delegates to participate in the festival. Mixing tradition with food and dance to celebrate has helped entrench the festival into our national culture and psyche.

Once regarded as ‘celestials’, the Chinese community have successfully bridged the cultural divide from once selling produce door to door and enabling them to come face to face with a ‘white public’ paved the way for their community to be seen as less alien. According to Dr Nicola Teffer Museum of Sydney’s curator of Celestial City: Sydney’s Chinese Story

Australia’s first Chinese ancestors became trusted ‘market gardeners, store keepers, cabinet makers, bankers or traders’ With 6.5% of Sydneysiders having Chinese heritage they are not just our merchants anymore but fellow colleagues, neighbours and friends (http://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/stories/celestial-city-sydney%E2%80%99s-chinese-story).

Lunar Parade Photo: Courtesy City of Sydney

Lunar Parade Photo: Courtesy City of Sydney

CNY is by no doubt rich in tradition and families look forward to it with eagerness not dissimilar to our dominant cultures Christmas. It is a time of renewal for the Chinese community as they seek to gain deeper insights into themselves while joining together with family to celebrate. A midnight mass is common for most families to ask for good fortune, safety for family, continued or gained prosperity and the blessing to receive a long and happy life. Like Christmas, old and young look forward to coming together and red packets are passed to children with money or hidden under the pillow by parents. Special dishes are prepared such as yuanbao, (simply ‘dumplings for those outside the community’)these pay homage to the ancient, ingot-shaped Chinese currency and are believed to increase prosperity (source– 10 Good luck foods for Chinese New Year). Traditional sweets such as oranges, mandarins, lychees and sticky plums are also favoured.

The Demystification of Symbols

What can be hurtful to the Asian community is when these valued traditions are made a mockery of for example when those outside the community ridicule the symbolism. For instance, it may seem ridiculous to some watching a cloth dragon eat lettuce from the red-posted doors. But the lettuce is meant to appease the angry dragon. The firecrackers & extra noise is to scare away the monster ‘Nian’ who runs terror over the Lunar Year. To this day the colour red is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring prosperity – it is also the colour of currency in China and parents continue to place red packets until their child’s pillow to protect them. This year Art Gallery New Sales Wales is helping demystify the symbols used throughout the festival by hosting an ‘Auspicious Symbol Tour’ in English http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/calendar/auspicious-symbols-tour-2015-english/ This year is the wooden sheep – a colleague of Cantonese descent informs me it is a great year for pending nuptials.

Schisms in the Wider Asian Community

In Sydney CNY is not only celebrated by those of Chinese descent and westerners but many other cultures. The festival holds great importance to many in the wider Asian community. So much so that a petition has been drafted in support of an official name change of the event to “Lunar New Year’, citing the disrespectful nature of using the Chinese New Year name while also celebrating the cultures of Thailand, Korea and Vietnam. Anthony Ngo, a Vietnamese man who started the petition, (told SBS)

“If I greet some Chinese man with ‘Hey happy Vietnamese New Year – it’s not right. It’s just like greeting a Vietnamese man with Happy Chinese New Year,”

(source- http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/sydneys-chinese-new-year-festival-celebrates-the-year-of-the-sheep-20150210-138uws.html Sydney’s Chinese New Year Festival celebrates the Year of the Sheep Feb10, 2015), Matt Burgess

The festival continues to attract guests in considerable numbers sometimes reaching tens of thousands. The dragon boat races are becoming an iconic part of the festival, as is the twilight parade and lunar markets; this ‘Year of The Sheep’ giant terracotta warriors lanterns illuminate our skies against the iconic Sydney harbour. Just as meeting for Yum-Cha is a weekend outing for many or popping out for a ‘Thai’ dinner. We are Australasia after all and Asian culture is a big part of us. So, let’s celebrate it.

Future Projections

Charles Price, one of Australia’s most respected demographic experts has already published his projections: “the year 2020 would see some 2.7 million persons of unmixed Asian origin and about 3.9 million persons of part Asian ancestry; a Total Descent figure of 6.6 million persons of whole or part Asian origin; that is, 26.7% of the total Australian population”. In twenty years, a quarter of Australia’s population will be Asian (source-The Future Asian Population in Australia-Ironbarkresources.com). We can estimate that close to 1,749,374 Aussies of Asian descent will reside in Sydney in coming years – the festival can only become bigger and better for us all.

The debate will no doubt continue regarding an official name change. It is apparent some community members do not feel the same sense of social inclusion that those involved in the festival hoped to create. As some of us continue to try to foster a sense of ‘home’ away from home, we can continue to share culture and learn from each other. It seems to me, at least, that Chinese New Year is on its way to becoming a quintessential Australian tradition with a Lunar New year in the making.

What do you think of a name change for the festival?

Would it make a significant difference to you or your family?

Do you have any ideas for better social cohesion for Asians and those outside the culture in Australia? Or do you think we manage cultural assimilation quite well?

Racism in Australia in 2014

All Together Now has created an infographic with the key findings from the 2014 Mapping Social Cohesion report.

scanlon social cohesion

Each year the Scanlon Foundation commissions research to measure Australian attitudes on social cohesion, immigration and population issues.

The research shows the levels of racism in Australia compared to previous years. During the past year, 18% of people experienced discrimination based on skin colour, ethnic origin or religion. This is a small decrease from 19% last year, but a huge increase from 9% in 2007.

Alarmingly, 5% of people living in Australia – over 1.1 million people – experience racism at least once a month. People are most likely to experience racism in their neighbourhood, at the shopping centre, or at work.

The research also found that around 25-30% of Australians are intolerant of cultural diversity. All Together Now optimistically believes that people in this group won’t necessarily hold these intolerant beliefs for life. They tend to make racist comments because they over-estimate the number of people around them who agree with their point of view. When bystanders speak up  during a racist incident, the perpetrator learns that their view is not shared by others and is less likely to say something racist in the future.

Australia is one of the most multicultural nations in the world. More than 1 in 4 Australians were born overseas. Let’s increase social cohesion in our country by making all Australians feel welcome. You can start improving social cohesion by speaking up when you witness racism.

Halal or No Halal? That is the question.

Over the past week, two Australian companies, The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company and Byron Cookie Company, have been bullied into withdrawing their Halal certification on dairy products and biscuits respectively.

It is a minority of people who have been complaining about these companies’ products being halal certified. If we look at their arguments they boil down to the following:

1)      It takes away my right to eat normal food.

2)      They are in Australia after all, Halal is not part of our culture.

Curious people may be wondering what all the fuss is about. We’re here to demystify what halal is and why Australian companies produce halal-certified food.

What is halal?

Halal is the Arabic word for ‘permissible’. Anything considered halal by Muslims is an action, item or saying they are permitted to take part in.

In terms of food, everything is halal/permissible unless there is evidence from Islamic religious texts to say otherwise. Vegetables are permissible (halal) to eat and any product found in the sea, fish or mammal or muscle, are permissible to consume also. The grey area for permissible food is applied to animals on land and alcohol based products. Simply, the halal stamp gives consumers peace of mind when shopping.

To find out more, you can watch this video to see the humane and ethical treatment that is part of the halal meat process.


Why would companies certify products halal?

The world is filled with a variety of people, with a variety of dietary requirements. And with Australia being a multicultural country based on values of equal rights and opportunity, and giving people a fair go, it is natural to then have many of those food variants available to the Australian consumer market.

Many products with the halal stamp are in fact products void of any animal products or by-products. This is the case for yoghurt, milk, vegemite or biscuits products. Previously consumers would have seen them as vegetarian products. This is part of a trend to replace animal rennet or gelatin with vegetable by-products due to health concerns around the fat and sugar content levels in too many products in the market.

The products which have found their companies under attack by a minority of Australian consumers are in fact targeting products void of animal products. Keith Bryne, Chief Operating Officer for Byron Cookies Company clearly states:

“The Halal company that certifies us is based in Sydney, they come and they audit us and then they go away again, they don’t ‘bless’ our foods, they don’t ‘bless’ our site, there’s no religious context to it, they check our hygiene and they check that there’s no alcohol there.”

Here Keith Bryne makes it clear that no animal by-products or meat are actually used in their biscuits. The halal certification they have is to extend to their customers a sense of trust, which every brand needs, by using a community trusted company to grant the certification.


So really, what’s all the fuss about?

Companies like Four’N Twenty, Mrs. Macs, Vegemite and Cadbury have halal certification for many of their products. It is a shame that bullies and boycotters with misinformation have caused Australian companies to take a step back from a successful, value inclusive and profiting business scheme of halal certification.

Companies like The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, Byron Cookie Company and others have had to cancel lucrative business deals due to removing their stamp of approval. In the case of The Fleurieu Milk and Yoghurt Company, it was a requirement for their international supply deal to purchase the certification. This is the case for many other companies which export products overseas.

In the end the right to choice has been taken away from the companies and those Australian consumers who wish to follow the dietary rules of halal eating. The halal stamp is simply the same guarantee and peace of mind that labels like gluten free, vegan, egg free, nut free, wheat free, lactose free, kosher or suitable for vegetarians brings for those wishing to be conscious and aware of the food they consume in the busy and often time constricted shopping lifestyle that modern Australians live in. It is a positive outward trend of a conscious and productive multicultural Australia.